Brussels, 16 January 2004
Loyola de Palacio, European Commission Vice-President, has welcomed the latest statements by the USA that the European Union and the USA are on the verge of agreement on the Galileo and GPS satellite radionavigation systems. "These statements reinforce the EU's goal of defining, together with our USA partners, the standard for the best possible civil system for the benefit of users worldwide," she emphasised, before adding "I hope the remaining obstacles to the signing of an agreement covering all the subjects under discussion will be removed during the forthcoming negotiating session which will be held in Washington on 29 and 30 January".
Concluding the negotiations with the USA has been a priority for the European Union since the discussions on arrangements for cohabitation between Galileo and the American GPS system began four years ago. Initially, the USA disputed the merits of the Galileo programme itself. Considerable progress has been made during the last 18 months and the main obstacles to an agreement between the two parties have now been removed.
The USA now recognises the importance of the Galileo system for all satellite radionavigation users and have taken on board the EU's objective of achieving full interoperability between Galileo and the GPS system for the maximum benefit of users.
Furthermore, the USA was opposed, for military security reasons, to Galileo having a signal modulation which partly covers that of the GPS's future military signal, the code M. The European experts were able to show their American colleagues that there is no harmful interference between Galileo's signals and those of the GPS system and that the two systems are technically perfectly compatible, including in terms of time references and geodesy. A major advance towards an overall agreement came in the autumn 2003 with the identification of a solution for the governmental service signal.
Only two questions remain to be solved: the coexistence of Galileo's open signal and the GPS's military signal in the event of a crisis, and the prospects for further improving Galileo's signals.
On the first, the Commission has already made several concessions called for by the USA during recent discussions. The European Union, however, intends to have the best possible civil system in the form of Galileo. Some of the civilian service applications offered by the system require great precision, such as applications in an urban environment, emergency calls using the European number 112, the guidance of aircraft and guidance assistance for the blind. They require the choice of a very high-performance signal, which will guarantee Galileo's commercial success.
On the second question, the overall agreement under discussion must provide for an effective and transparent way for agreeing on how to optimise the performance of Galileo and the GPS system in line with technological developments and users' demands. This will take account of US national security concerns.
Galileo, the European satellite radionavigation programme, is a global infrastructure. It brings together public and private money as the prospects for growth in the markets related to satellite radionavigation products and services are tremendous. These justify the choice of managing the system by way of a concession in the framework of a public-private partnership.
The concession period for the system covers the deployment phase, planned for 2006 to 2007, and the operational phase as from 2008. The concession holder, from the private sector, will manage these phases in compliance with a specific set of specifications. It will be placed under the control of a public body, the Surveillance Authority, as proposed by the Commission on 31 July 2003 ( IP/03/1141 )
For further information about Galileo, visit:
Details about the concession notice can be found on